Friday, July 15, 2016

A to Z Food Challenge: L

You have no idea how delicious and much anticipated today was. After 13 HOURS of getting my house in tip top shape, it was finally time to sit down and enjoy some good food. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't even sure I was going to make it to the grocery store today, as I was so busy cleaning and organizing. Thankfully with the little strength - and time - I had left, I was able to squeeze in a quick trip and buy 4 wonderful "L" foods and a drink for today's challenge. 

First of all, I'd like to say that I have never eaten lamb. I never intended to eat lamb. Today, I ate lamb.

One of the "L" foods I had purchased was called "Indian Lamb Vindaloo" from Trader Joe's for $3.99. I cooked mine in a toaster oven for about 25 minutes with a perfect temperature throughout in the end. The portions themselves would be perfect if it was an entire meal for one person or an add-on for two. I have to mention now that it was labeled as spicy and it was SPICY. Perhaps not ghost pepper spicy, but holy macaroni it was lighting my mouth on fire! The rice was really well prepared and I have to say I was impressed. Mixing with the curry sauce, it was fantastic. Now, this dish does have coconut which gives it a bit of a "sweetness" factor, but it's not overpowering as some re-makes can be. The lamb part was the one bit I was nervous to try, but at the same time quite excited. This was definitely a challenge for me. I gotta say, it wasn't half bad. It reminded me of a very tender beef stew chunk with a much milder flavor. Granted the entire thing was covered in curry, so I couldn't exactly focus in on just the lamb by itself, but it was pretty good. I was afraid it would be a very distinct flavor, but I was surprised. It tended to fall apart in a "meat sauce" fashion, unlike actual beef where it can be stringy. When it's cut up, it was almost as if I was eating a chunky spaghetti-like curry. Regardless, it was delicious. A little too spicy for my liking and the sweet thing put me off a little bit, mostly because I just don't like sweet meat, but it was a pretty good dish. I personally won't buy it again for myself, but I do think it's worth a try if you're into these kind of Indian dishes. 

The second "L" food I purchased was more for my son, but I of course had to try it as well. It was a frozen bag of "Linguine with Pesto and Tomatoes" from Trader Joe's for only $2.99. Now this could easily feed 2 people as a whole meal, perhaps even 2 and 1/2. The 1/2 being a child. I absolutely love pesto and so does my son, which is why this ended up in the basket. It's not much of a crazy twist nor is it extravagant, but it was a nice little additive to my lamb portion. I think I would've rather had made this particular dish from scratch, adding in way more pesto and no tomatoes. I actually enjoy tomatoes in all their forms, but they were a bit too acidic for me in this instance. My son refused to eat them, as he detests tomatoes. As for quickness, it took about 10 minutes to make on my stove top in a skillet. The noodles were well prepared as well. The only thing missing really is more pesto, but of the fresh variety. My son and I prefer the really bold flavor of a fresh pesto, but this is very toned down. If you aren't a huge fan of the strong taste pesto can present to some, this may be a very good alternative. Will I buy again? Probably not, but I will continue to eat pesto on tortellini because it's delicious. 

Of course I had to have a drink to chug all this food down with. I went with a favorite of mine, which I guess doesn't make this portion a challenge really, but it was something I absolutely had to include. The drink? Lemonade. But not just any lemonade, no. 64 ounces of "Strawberry Lemonade" from Trader Joe's for $3.49. Don't be confused by "Pink Lemonade", as that's actually flavored with grapefruit juice. Which is something I did not know, but was nicely explained by a helpful gentleman at the store. I seriously didn't understand the difference, but once he told me I was a little shocked. I had absolutely no clue, but now I understand why I don't like pink lemonade. I don't like grapefruit. The "Strawberry Lemonade" is a favorite, as it's sweet, tart, and a perfect match for almost any meal. ESPECIALLY in the summertime. Chicken? Check. Beef? You got it. Lamb? Apparently. We bought this not just because it's delicious, but because tomorrow we're having my son's second (and FINAL) birthday celebration with family. "Strawberry Lemonade" was a favorite last time it was served, therefore it will be making a reappearance. In fact, this lemonade will be in my fridge for practically all summer. In fall, it will be hot cocoa and apple cider all the way! 

To end our lovely dinner, I also picked up two new desserts we have yet to try. Really one is a dessert and the other is a sweet snack. The dessert being a "Lemon Tart" from Trader Joe's for $6.49 and "Australian Red Licorice" also from Trader Joe's for $3.99. The "Lemon Tart" was very crumby and had a mild lemon flavor. Of course it's all lemon, but it wasn't an extreme sourness, nor was it sweet like sugar. It did have a light coating of powdered sugar on top, but it was subtle. I rather liked this tart with a glass of milk and my son enjoyed it the same way. The crust was a bit thicker than I would've liked, hence why it was "crumby", but it wasn't terrible. For the price I felt a little let down, because I really was hoping for a more "lemony" flavor and not a crust overtake. I won't be buying this particular tart again, but if you are into pastries that are thicker on the crust, this is the dessert for you. The licorice on the other hand, oh my-lanta! This is definitely my new favorite licorice! I've never liked Twizzlers, was always a Redvine kind of person, but these take the prize all the way! They are thick (I am SO sorry I don't have a picture! I was writing this and realized a picture would've been nice.) like thumbs, sweet as strawberry - they do have other flavors, and an absolutely amazing taste. The other part I loved was the texture. Even with their thickness, they melt in your mouth. They aren't hard like Redvine, perhaps more towards the Twizzlers style, but they aren't as artificially sweet like Twizzlers. Almost a more authentic Strawberry taste, with a hint of a Fruit Roll-Up. I feel like my descripition just isn't doing this product justice. I am in love and I absolutely can not wait to enjoy this candy over and over and over. In fact, I want to go to a movie just so I can bring this with me. Sunday we will be having a "Netflix" day, so these are going to be perfect. IF they last that long. I think every single person should try these out, because oh my god. Actually....don't. I don't want you heathens to buy them all! Forget I said anything! Abort! Abort!!! Ah well, secrets out. 

Overall, this was a really successful challenge. I learned that I do indeed like lamb, I don't like coconut near my meat, I don't like frozen pesto, I'm not a fan of a lot of crust, and I love Australian licorice. In my book, that's a win! 

Have a wonderful weekend guys and for those of you in San Diego or loved one's in San Diego, PLEASE be careful if/when you're going to "Pride" tomorrow. Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, don't put yourself into situations you feel uncomfortable in, and stay safe!!! That goes for all of you really, regardless of demographics. Have fun, but don't do it at the cost of your safety. Love you all and see you on Monday!!!

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